Should you be able to talk your way out of a parking ticket?

Kriss Worthington wants Berkeley to have a kinder, gentler ticketing policy.

If you park in a red zone or in a disabled space, you deserve no mercy, said Councilmember Worthington, whose district covers the Telegraph Avenue corridor. But if you encounter a meter maid writing you a ticket, you should be able to talk him or her into ripping it up.

“If you show up and you are going to move your vehicle, which is the goal in the first place, the police shouldn’t be forced to finish writing you a ticket when you are standing there mad at them,” said Worthington, who rarely drives a car and can been seen riding his bike all around town.

Worthington will ask the City Council on Tuesday to reconsider the city’s ticketing policy.

Berkeley’s existing parking laws are actually designed to encourage turnover. The idea is to have enough vacant spaces so there is room to park when people come to shop or run errands, said Worthington. That’s why it is not legal to “feed the meter.”

“The point of the meters is to create turnover,” said Worthington. “It is not designed for an employee to walk out of the store and feed a meter every hour.”

But if you are intending to move your car – and create turnover – and are just a few minutes late, you shouldn’t get penalized for this.

“I don’t see it as breaking the social code if you are late two minutes,” he said. “If you are a half-hour late, that is different.”

Complicating matters is the fact that Berkeley has three kind of parking meters. Those handing out tickets can actually rip them up at the old kind of meters, but not the newer electronic meters, he said.

“My main goal is to end confusion and get clarity,” said Worthington.

New parking signs in downtown follow neighborhood action [02.08.12]
Berkeley introduces parking boots for repeat offenders [10.05.11] 

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Frances Dinkelspiel, Berkeleyside and CItyside co-founder, is a journalist and author. Her first book, Towers of Gold: How One Jewish Immigrant Named Isaias Hellman Created California, published in November...